Thisrecipe for curried lentils is not a traditional method for making lentils, but it’s a quick way to get the same flavor profile of a nice spicy curry. Paired with the bright tomato jasmine rice, it’s perfect for winter comfort food, or a spa night in. The lentils are finished with a bagaar, a traditional tempering oil used in Indian cooking and it really adds an incredible depth to a pot of lentils that were, literally, a bag of pebbles in your cupboard about a half hour prior.
Ingredients for the Lentils:
2C french green lentils
1 bay leaf
1″ piece of ginger cut into several long thin coins
4-5 cloves of roughly chopped garlic
salt (to season AFTER cooking)
3/4 bunch of minced cilantro
Ingredients for the Bagaar:
1T peanut oil
1/2t coriander seeds
1t cumin seeds
1/2t garam marsala
1/4t chipotle chili powder
Ingredients for the Tomato Jasmine Rice:
2C jasmine rice
28oz can or diced tomatoes
4-6 cloves of roughly chopped garlic
1. Start the lentils. After rinsing lentils (and checking for little stones), add to a medium sized pot. Toss in the bay leaf, ginger and garlic (no salt!! Not yet… you want to salt at the end so your lentils don’t turn to mush… I don’t know the science behind it–or if it is even true–but I’ve always been taught to never salt the water for lentils or beans until AFTER they are the right texture). Add enough water to cover the lentils by about 2 inches. Bring to boil. Boil for about 2 minutes, give it all a good stir and then turn the burner down to a low simmer and place a tight fitting lid on and let them simmer for about 20-25 minutes. They should be a nice combination of soft and al dente. If you like them a little more soft, return the lid and let them simmer until they reach the texture you like.
2. Make your rice. In a blender, combine 1.5 cups of tomatoes with 2 cups of water and purée. In another pot, combine the rice and liquid with the remainder 1/2 cup of tomatoes and teaspoon of salt. Give it a quick mix and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to a low simmer and stir well, making sure to scrape anything that is sticking to the bottom of the pot. Then, put on a tight fitting lid and let simmer on low for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, resist the urge to take the lid off (trust me on this), remove pot from heat, lid still firmly on, let sit for 10 minutes.
While the rice is resting, make the bagaar…
3. Combine the cumin and coriander seeds in a small dish. Do the same with the powdered spices. Heat the vegetable oil in a small saucepan over medium high heat until the oil starts to ripple. Carefully, throw in the seeds (watch out, they may spatter!). After 10 seconds, add the powdered spices and swirl/stir the spices. After 20 seconds, everything should be really fragrant browning nicely. Remove from the heat and add to the pan with the lentils.
4. Stir the lentils, minced cilantro and bagaar together carefully with a tablespoon or fork (I think these work better then a larger spoon, the lentils seem to keep their integrity better). Taste and add salt to your liking.
5. Serve the rice and lentils with torn cilantro as garnish.
Makes 6-8 servings. At 6 servings it’s under 400 calories and chock full of fiber and nutrients.